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lorielle

When did you first touch clay? | May 14, 2013

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My first experience with clay, was as a child when I saw my Dad, working on a clay sculpture. He had a ceramics emphasis in college, along with his teaching degree. He learned from a student of Hamada, and as I learned some from my Dad, I guess I can claim, that I have learned some of what Hamada taught......right......? However, my Dad had switched careers before I was born, so I never saw him work with clay until this point. Anyway, he had the idea for a project, and like me, when he gets a good idea for a project, he goes full bore at it. Sadly, it was never finished. I don't know why it wasn't completed, time probably, but alas it wasn't. After writing this, that actually gives me an idea for my own project, which will be to remake his concept. I actually remember it pretty well.

 

I didn't have another experience with clay, until high school. The elementary and middle school buildings didn't have the equipment for ceramics, when I was there. Oddly enough, neither did my high school, other than a kick wheel that was sitting outside the Art Room, in the elements, and couldn't even make it a full turn, when kicked. The only reason we got clay at all, is because we had student taught lessons, for a project. One of the students did a basic sculptural project, with clay. We didn't keep them, it was more of creating a three-dimensional concept. But, because we had the clay, my art teacher, decided to do a small coil pot project. We created a template to follow, and rolled coils by hand. I really liked mine. It followed the template perfectly, though it was still a little rough overall. My teacher said he would fire them, at the elementary, which now had a kiln. I never saw the project again. He says, he doesn't know what happened to the projects. I had a feeling he did, which after teaching several years now myself, I'm almost positive, he just tossed them.

 

I actually got a little more experience with clay my Freshmen year of college. I took a Three-Dimensional Concepts class, where we used clay to practice creating unified works, meant to be viewed, in the round. We made busts of our classmates, then cut them into pieces with a cutting wire, then reassembled them, in an interesting way. We also did not fire these pieces, but I asked to keep mine anyway, which my instructor allowed. I actually found the pieces I kept, in one of my old supply boxes, still intact. I took them to my classroom, and keep meaning to fire them. The clay was not wedged, but I think the odds of explosion are pretty low, as the clay has had thirteen years to dry out.

 

It wasn't until my Senior year of college, that I actually took a Ceramics class. I had switched from Studio Art, to Art Education, and needed another three-dimensional art class, for my degree. So I took Ceramics, and it was a wonderful experience. My instructor, was not the department head, who taught most of the classes. He was an adjunct, who also taught at a local junior high. He was a great teacher, and I learned a lot from him. I wish I could have taken more Ceramics classes, but never got time to fit them in.

 

Despite that, the person I replaced at my first teaching job, was very focused on Ceramics. So as I took over his position, this was now my job. There's nothing quite like trial by fire. I learned fast, all while pretending, I knew more than I did. Since then, I keep learning more, and getting better.

 

And that's all I have to say about that......

 

 

I should just copy and paste this into my profile page.

 

At least you had an "art room" in your high school. Growing up in the Heart of Darkness, my high school (a beautiful building that my class burned down in '67) had no art classes of any kind. I went to a public school but it was not only segregated by race but by sex. So in my all white boys school everyone had to take ROTC and instead of art, ran track with an M-1 over my head and studied field stripping M-16s, aiming mortars, and gutting dummies with a bayonet.

 

Jim

 

Wow, on all accounts Jim! Georgia really was, and still is, a different world. And as interesting as I would be in knowing how to field strip a M-16, I prefer that I had my art classes. I am happy with my choice in profession, and probably wouldn't be where I am, had I not had art in school.

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Jim, I can relate. I went to school in Warner Robins from 62-66. Ours was a military town, with two HS. One burned down in 66 my Junior year. Grad class there was about 3-500 I think. Those years were different for a kid used to base and military way of life what with the segregated bathrooms, the lunchrooms and what all. It was definitely a different time and place. I did have a pretty decent art experience there, and there was no JROTC in the school. I used to spend summers at Camp Ben Hawkins, maybe you heard of it.

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First touched "real" clay 40+yrs ago as a child, playing in the creek in my back yard.

 

Never had a chance to throw on a wheel, or anything else with clay (other than glazing some slip-cast ceramics), until a little over a year ago. A friend needed a website for her studio, and I offered to build & manage the site in exchange for some pottery lessons & studio time. By the time my first wheel-thrown bowl was glazed & fired, I was hooked.

 

Now, I'm trying to close the circle. I've extracted 100lbs or so of clay from the creek where I grew up, and am working on figuring out what to add to it to get a ^6 throwing body that works with the glazes my friend uses in her studio.

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First touched "real" clay 40+yrs ago as a child, playing in the creek in my back yard.

 

Never had a chance to throw on a wheel, or anything else with clay (other than glazing some slip-cast ceramics), until a little over a year ago. A friend needed a website for her studio, and I offered to build & manage the site in exchange for some pottery lessons & studio time. By the time my first wheel-thrown bowl was glazed & fired, I was hooked.

 

Now, I'm trying to close the circle. I've extracted 100lbs or so of clay from the creek where I grew up, and am working on figuring out what to add to it to get a ^6 throwing body that works with the glazes my friend uses in her studio.

 

 

Get a bag of cone 10+ stoneware. Wedge up several batches to do a line test from about 25/75 creek/stoneware then a 50/50 and a 75/25. Just run some test tiles with a stiff white glaze. Fire to cone 6. This should tell you a lot about what you have and what direction to go

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When did you first touch clay? What were your thoughts and feelings?

 

I always enjoy hearing stories about people's first time working with clay. Some people take to it immediately, some are not so sure about it, and some people can't stand it! My first experience with clay was at a community art center class. I was a little nervous, but when I got started, I thought, "Clay, where have you been all my life?". How about you?

 

 

 

 

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My first experience with clay, was as a child when I saw my Dad, working on a clay sculpture. He had a ceramics emphasis in college, along with his teaching degree. He learned from a student of Hamada, and as I learned some from my Dad, I guess I can claim, that I have learned some of what Hamada taught......right......? However, my Dad had switched careers before I was born, so I never saw him work with clay until this point. Anyway, he had the idea for a project, and like me, when he gets a good idea for a project, he goes full bore at it. Sadly, it was never finished. I don't know why it wasn't completed, time probably, but alas it wasn't. After writing this, that actually gives me an idea for my own project, which will be to remake his concept. I actually remember it pretty well.

 

I didn't have another experience with clay, until high school. The elementary and middle school buildings didn't have the equipment for ceramics, when I was there. Oddly enough, neither did my high school, other than a kick wheel that was sitting outside the Art Room, in the elements, and couldn't even make it a full turn, when kicked. The only reason we got clay at all, is because we had student taught lessons, for a project. One of the students did a basic sculptural project, with clay. We didn't keep them, it was more of creating a three-dimensional concept. But, because we had the clay, my art teacher, decided to do a small coil pot project. We created a template to follow, and rolled coils by hand. I really liked mine. It followed the template perfectly, though it was still a little rough overall. My teacher said he would fire them, at the elementary, which now had a kiln. I never saw the project again. He says, he doesn't know what happened to the projects. I had a feeling he did, which after teaching several years now myself, I'm almost positive, he just tossed them.

 

I actually got a little more experience with clay my Freshmen year of college. I took a Three-Dimensional Concepts class, where we used clay to practice creating unified works, meant to be viewed, in the round. We made busts of our classmates, then cut them into pieces with a cutting wire, then reassembled them, in an interesting way. We also did not fire these pieces, but I asked to keep mine anyway, which my instructor allowed. I actually found the pieces I kept, in one of my old supply boxes, still intact. I took them to my classroom, and keep meaning to fire them. The clay was not wedged, but I think the odds of explosion are pretty low, as the clay has had thirteen years to dry out.

 

It wasn't until my Senior year of college, that I actually took a Ceramics class. I had switched from Studio Art, to Art Education, and needed another three-dimensional art class, for my degree. So I took Ceramics, and it was a wonderful experience. My instructor, was not the department head, who taught most of the classes. He was an adjunct, who also taught at a local junior high. He was a great teacher, and I learned a lot from him. I wish I could have taken more Ceramics classes, but never got time to fit them in.

 

Despite that, the person I replaced at my first teaching job, was very focused on Ceramics. So as I took over his position, this was now my job. There's nothing quite like trial by fire. I learned fast, all while pretending, I knew more than I did. Since then, I keep learning more, and getting better.

 

And that's all I have to say about that......

 

 

I should just copy and paste this into my profile page.

 

 

At least you had an "art room" in your high school. Growing up in the Heart of Darkness, my high school (a beautiful building that my class burned down in '67) had no art classes of any kind. I went to a public school but it was not only segregated by race but by sex. So in my all white boys school everyone had to take ROTC and instead of art, ran track with an M-1 over my head and studied field stripping M-16s, aiming mortars, and gutting dummies with a bayonet.

 

Jim

 

 

Wow, on all accounts Jim! Georgia really was, and still is, a different world. And as interesting as I would be in knowing how to field strip a M-16, I prefer that I had my art classes. I am happy with my choice in profession, and probably wouldn't be where I am, had I not had art in school.

 

 

Yeah, but a lot of good those art classes are going to do you next time you need to load a mortar.

 

Jim

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Jim, I can relate. I went to school in Warner Robins from 62-66. Ours was a military town, with two HS. One burned down in 66 my Junior year. Grad class there was about 3-500 I think. Those years were different for a kid used to base and military way of life what with the segregated bathrooms, the lunchrooms and what all. It was definitely a different time and place. I did have a pretty decent art experience there, and there was no JROTC in the school. I used to spend summers at Camp Ben Hawkins, maybe you heard of it.

 

 

The two white boy's schools in Macon were bigger. Warner Robins has grown a lot since you were there. I'm surprised you had a "pretty decent art experience there".

 

Jim

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Technically... elementary school. My first peice is still in my dad's house (an ashtray, of all things). Then in high school we had the requiste one class of ceramics or so. My main focus then was wood and metal sculpture and a bit of painting. Nothing connected with clay there.

 

But really "discovering" clay........ Ceramics 1 class with Professor Brenda Minisci at UMass back in the late 60's. Inspirational teacher. Changed my life. Never looked back.

 

It was only after changing my major and being a few years into the program that I found out that it was likely a "genetic" thing. I have a family history tracing back to the mid 1800s in the Mercer Pottery and Cook Pottery in Trenton, NJ. And the interest / expertise in kilns is also "genetic". One of my distant relatives was the kiln foreman at the pottery there.

 

It is a strange world. When I "discovered" clay.... and realized I was "home", I had no idea about the family history.

 

best,

 

......................john

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There were no art classes in my high school in the early 60's. I always loved to draw and paint and took some lessons from a local painter after I graduated. Moved to NC in the early 80's and attended an outdoor spring festival where a woman had her wheel set up and was throwing a bowl. I was fascinated and set out to find somewhere I could learn to the same. I found a sculpture class at a community college and loved it, however, the instructor was so inexperienced, almost everything we made blew up in the kiln. We were all frustrated and ready to quit when one of the other students told me about an art school in a nearby town. I started taking classes there and have been associated with it ever since in some capacity. I enjoyed wheel throwing, but when I discovered hand-building, I was really hooked. I am now retired and have a wonderful studio in my home.

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Technically... elementary school. My first peice is still in my dad's house (an ashtray, of all things). Then in high school we had the requiste one class of ceramics or so. My main focus then was wood and metal sculpture and a bit of painting. Nothing connected with clay there.

 

But really "discovering" clay........ Ceramics 1 class with Professor Brenda Minisci at UMass back in the late 60's. Inspirational teacher. Changed my life. Never looked back.

 

It was only after changing my major and being a few years into the program that I found out that it was likely a "genetic" thing. I have a family history tracing back to the mid 1800s in the Mercer Pottery and Cook Pottery in Trenton, NJ. And the interest / expertise in kilns is also "genetic". One of my distant relatives was the kiln foreman at the pottery there.

 

It is a strange world. When I "discovered" clay.... and realized I was "home", I had no idea about the family history.

 

best,

 

......................john

 

 

Interesting way to discover your. . ."Roots"!wink.gif

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My first experience with clay, was as a child when I saw my Dad, working on a clay sculpture. He had a ceramics emphasis in college, along with his teaching degree. He learned from a student of Hamada, and as I learned some from my Dad, I guess I can claim, that I have learned some of what Hamada taught......right......? However, my Dad had switched careers before I was born, so I never saw him work with clay until this point. Anyway, he had the idea for a project, and like me, when he gets a good idea for a project, he goes full bore at it. Sadly, it was never finished. I don't know why it wasn't completed, time probably, but alas it wasn't. After writing this, that actually gives me an idea for my own project, which will be to remake his concept. I actually remember it pretty well.

 

I didn't have another experience with clay, until high school. The elementary and middle school buildings didn't have the equipment for ceramics, when I was there. Oddly enough, neither did my high school, other than a kick wheel that was sitting outside the Art Room, in the elements, and couldn't even make it a full turn, when kicked. The only reason we got clay at all, is because we had student taught lessons, for a project. One of the students did a basic sculptural project, with clay. We didn't keep them, it was more of creating a three-dimensional concept. But, because we had the clay, my art teacher, decided to do a small coil pot project. We created a template to follow, and rolled coils by hand. I really liked mine. It followed the template perfectly, though it was still a little rough overall. My teacher said he would fire them, at the elementary, which now had a kiln. I never saw the project again. He says, he doesn't know what happened to the projects. I had a feeling he did, which after teaching several years now myself, I'm almost positive, he just tossed them.

 

I actually got a little more experience with clay my Freshmen year of college. I took a Three-Dimensional Concepts class, where we used clay to practice creating unified works, meant to be viewed, in the round. We made busts of our classmates, then cut them into pieces with a cutting wire, then reassembled them, in an interesting way. We also did not fire these pieces, but I asked to keep mine anyway, which my instructor allowed. I actually found the pieces I kept, in one of my old supply boxes, still intact. I took them to my classroom, and keep meaning to fire them. The clay was not wedged, but I think the odds of explosion are pretty low, as the clay has had thirteen years to dry out.

 

It wasn't until my Senior year of college, that I actually took a Ceramics class. I had switched from Studio Art, to Art Education, and needed another three-dimensional art class, for my degree. So I took Ceramics, and it was a wonderful experience. My instructor, was not the department head, who taught most of the classes. He was an adjunct, who also taught at a local junior high. He was a great teacher, and I learned a lot from him. I wish I could have taken more Ceramics classes, but never got time to fit them in.

 

Despite that, the person I replaced at my first teaching job, was very focused on Ceramics. So as I took over his position, this was now my job. There's nothing quite like trial by fire. I learned fast, all while pretending, I knew more than I did. Since then, I keep learning more, and getting better.

 

And that's all I have to say about that......

 

 

I should just copy and paste this into my profile page.

 

At least you had an "art room" in your high school. Growing up in the Heart of Darkness, my high school (a beautiful building that my class burned down in '67) had no art classes of any kind. I went to a public school but it was not only segregated by race but by sex. So in my all white boys school everyone had to take ROTC and instead of art, ran track with an M-1 over my head and studied field stripping M-16s, aiming mortars, and gutting dummies with a bayonet.

 

Jim

 

Wow, on all accounts Jim! Georgia really was, and still is, a different world. And as interesting as I would be in knowing how to field strip a M-16, I prefer that I had my art classes. I am happy with my choice in profession, and probably wouldn't be where I am, had I not had art in school.

 

Yeah, but a lot of good those art classes are going to do you next time you need to load a mortar.

 

Jim

 

That is often a concern, that haunts me.

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First time I touched clay was in kindergarden. I still have the little pot I made there. It's in my studio and contains the little sponges I use when throwing. Then nothing with clay for a lot of years. 12 years ago I changed profession from pianist to ceramist.... and never regrettet it!

 

Evelyne

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I had to have a fine art credit in college and stained glass class was full so I took pottery 101, hand building. I liked working with clay so 2nd semester took a throwing class; pottery 102. The teacher told me to go back to hand building because I'd never be able to throw pots competently. Well, those are fightin' words so I found a private teacher who was willing to help me modify the wheel so I could work and 2 years of lessons later I'm here to tell you I can throw any pot I can envision, repeatedly! My husband says that the college teacher should never have pissed of a woman with Irish fire and German stubbornness in her DNA.

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I had to have a fine art credit in college and stained glass class was full so I took pottery 101, hand building. I liked working with clay so 2nd semester took a throwing class; pottery 102. The teacher told me to go back to hand building because I'd never be able to throw pots competently. Well, those are fightin' words so I found a private teacher who was willing to help me modify the wheel so I could work and 2 years of lessons later I'm here to tell you I can throw any pot I can envision, repeatedly! My husband says that the college teacher should never have pissed of a woman with Irish fire and German stubbornness in her DNA.

 

I'm glad you stuck with it, despite the opinion of one supposed "expert" or "professional" as they seem to be neither.

 

It is a teacher's job to teach, not discourage.  I wasn't the best on the wheel, when I started, but I've practiced, gotten much better, and taught hundreds upon hundreds of students how to use the wheel as well.  Every time I help one of them, I get a little better....It's kind of like Highlander, minus the decapitation and death.

 

The moment that I stop being supportive of students, I hope that I either resign, or someone asks me to do so, because I don't deserve to be there anymore. 

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I am another who grew up in Middle Georgia. The creek banks in my neck of the woods were lined with red clay and a grey clay that the kids called "Indian Clay"...I don't think any of us actually fired pieces we made of that clay, although I recall a Boy Scout trip when someone attempted (unsuccessfully) to place a pot in a campfire. Oddly enough, searching for clay shards from the Native Americans who lived in the region centuries ago was a common practice...and they likely used those same clays.

My first, formal clay experience came in college.  The art department shunned clay as a 'craft', so the clay classes were in the Scool of Home Economics.  Clay classes were looked upon as easy elective "A's" for architecture students...I was hooked at the first demo on the wheel.

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My first clay figures were when I was 8. Not fired or anything, but dried and hand polished.

 

A few months ago, I started putting some worthwhile time into working with clay again.

 

This time, glazed and fired and all that jazz. :)

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